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Online Gameplay a Cause for Concern

Online gaming has presented moral and legal issues since its inception. There are those who play by the rules and those who do not. These issues and the issue of security in onling gaming will present a preview of problems that will emerge in the coming years, claims one of the presenters at a conference on electronic crime.

Gary McGraw, chief technology officer at Cigital Inc., a firm that specialises in software security, claims that the server-client architecture used prominently by Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying games or MMORPGs, is taking off in other domains, as other business sectors try to find ways to exploit the interactive potential of the Internet.

"Exploiting Online Games," was the title of McGraws keynote address at this years, "eCrime' 07," an academic conference on electronic crime.

The interactivity that is seen in MMORPGs is increasingly being quoted as the next big thing in everything from scoial networking to Web-based applications that allow users to write documents online. Such technology is apparent on gaming websites such as Curse, who utilize Web 2.0 or, "service-orientated architecture." This allows one to work from any computer connected to the Internet and removes the reliance and restriction of a single personal computer.

McGraw was quick to point out that this comes with a price. When a player interacts with an environment, such as moving around in World of Warcraft, his position is defined by his PC. The game server, which continually updates all players' activity accepts whatever the PC tells it to.

McGraw then goes on to say that, as long as the player is opperating within the definitions of the rules, that is fine. A hacker however, can use teleport hacks to instantly transport to any location in the gaming environment, for example, and this give an unfair advantage over others who are playing.

While companies and governments attempt to educate users on how to interact with the Internet and MMOGs more securely, McGraw directs his message at the developers.

Most people who build our systems don't think about bad guys when they build, and that turns out to be a mistake. There are in fact people who want to cheat and who want to make your program fail in interesting ways. Think about what those people might do and design your programs to prevent that.

Despite this warning however there are already well known anti-hacking and botting solutions attached to MMOGs such as Blizzards famed solution, dubbed, "The Warden," which constantly monitors player activity to make sure that rule breaking gameplay is not occuring.


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